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How Mari Pablo Is Living Out Her ‘Jesus Year’ of Age 33

Many celebrate milestone birthdays in a special way, and Father Dave welcomes Catholic speaker Mari Pablo to talk about how she’s commemorating age 33 as her “Jesus year.”

Father Dave first explains, “That’s the year that we believe, as far as we can calculate age, that Jesus died on the cross for our sins – when he was 33 years old.” Mari describes when she began planning for this special age. “My 29th birthday was my golden birthday, I turned 29 on the 29th. I threw a massive party, rented a place, wore a golden dress; everything was shiny,” she says. “I was like, ‘What’s going to be my next shebang?’ And I thought, ‘33, it has to be 33.’ So I’ve been planning it for four years.”

Mari describes the party she threw when she turned 33 in 2022. “Everyone’s coming dressed like biblical characters in the New Testament, but not Jesus or Mary, because that’s borderline heretical,” she recalls. “You’re going to look at the Scriptures and you’re going to get super creative. I literally got a giant backdrop of Jerusalem, and all the snacks looked like Vacation Bible School status for adults. We had a giant pitcher of water and a giant pitcher of wine.” 

Since her birthday falls on the Feast of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Mari recounts her own costume. She says, “I was dressed like Martha, but my birthday got upgraded [to include the other two saints] two years ago. So it was Martha with a little bit of Mary. I would sit at people’s feet to listen to them. Then I had a little bandage for Lazarus when he came out of the tomb.” 

HOMILY: Martha’s Attentiveness

While the party was fun, it was only the beginning of her Jesus Year celebration. “What started off as, ‘Oh, funny,’ became a massive desire for holiness and a massive desire to be closer to the Lord,” she says. “I’m aiming to spend 33 minutes of prayer every single day, and for Advent, I did 33 minutes of adoration every single day.” 

“I have a list of 33 creative things that Jesus did that I’m completing throughout my year,” Mari explains. Some activities are as straightforward as fishing, while others are more imaginative. “Axe throwing, because he’s a carpenter,” she says. “I went into a cave, and that was a really big thing because he descended into hell…I travel a lot for speaking. Whenever I travel, I start looking up what I can do around here that goes into my Jesus year.”

The most significant trip of the year was traveling to the Holy Land for the first time. She says, “My family is Dominican, but we’re also Palestinian. My grandfather was raised in Bethlehem.”

LISTEN: Highlights From the ‘Lent in the Holy Land’ Pilgrimage

She describes a powerful moment while visiting the Upper Room. “Everyone [warned me], ‘It’s not that exciting, it’s just a room. There are no images, it’s not prayerful.’ But that’s the thing; at the time of Jesus, it was just a room. Our faith started here, Pentecost happened here, and the Eucharist happened here.” 

With a little time left before turning 34 at the end of this month, Mari describes a couple final creative tasks she hopes to complete. “I need to go rock climbing, because Peter was the rock [of the Church.]  I need to go into an escape room, so I can walk through walls. And on the last day of my Jesus Year, July 28th, I’m throwing a Last Supper meal and inviting 12 of my friends to break bread.” 

She describes how this experience has inspired some of her friends and family to commemorate their Jesus Years as well. “I have family members that are not very religious, and this was a fun way to really introduce the Gospel to them,” Mari says, “It’s a silly thing, but it really ended up being a beautiful form of evangelization.”